This month NASA launches its OSIRIS-REx mission, an epic seven-year journey that will send a spacecraft to a remote asteroid called Bennu. Why Bennu? At 4 billion years old, it is one of the oldest asteroids in our solar system and contains rare materials NASA is eager to study. In fact, the 500-meter-wide asteroid could help answer important questions about how our solar system was formed, the origin of life on Earth and what’s to come for our planet.
After a nearly two-year trip getting to Bennu, OSIRIS-REx will spend more than 500 days analyzing the asteroid, mapping its surface and collecting samples. The spacecraft will return to Earth sometime in 2023.